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Sunday, August 07, 2022

Common Council votes to expedite two plans for homeless shelters

The Common Council voted Tuesday to expedite plans to purchase two properties located on the east side that, if purchased, would be used to house Madison's homeless community.  

The plan, sponsored by Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway, seeks to purchase properties located at 2002 Zeier Rd., the former Savers building near East Towne Mall, and 1902 Bartillon Dr., both of which would be used to construct long and short-term shelters for homeless residents. 

The $2.6 million proposal was unable to gain approval from the Common Council earlier this year after failing to pass by a margin of one vote.  

Rhodes-Conway motioned to refer the two proposals to the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) so that the properties could be further evaluated, however, the motion was rejected by the Common Council after 17 of the alders voted to deny the referral.

Ald. Keith Furman (Dis. 19) objected to the referral citing his belief that the city has a responsibility to secure shelter for Madison’s homeless community as soon as possible. “As I think we all know here, we have some very serious issues with homelessness in our city and these facilities getting purchased as quickly as possible is incredibly important,” Furman said during the meeting.

Furman additionally suggested that members of EOC should sit in on the City-County Homeless Issues Committee and the Finance Committee to avoid prolonging the process.

“Those committee members should certainly be invited, but we need to get moving on this and not push it out from what would be our next council meeting to the following,” Furman said.

Ald. Gary Halverson (Dis. 19) voted in favor of the referral, citing concerns that establishing new shelters too quickly could result in discontent among homeless residents who would be forced to move after already becoming settled in previous shelters.

“I would like to have the EOC weigh in on the impact of moving our residents out of the homeless shelter yet again before we get them to the permanent location that we have been so actively trying to find,” Halverson said. 

Rhodes-Conway encouraged citizens to register to speak on both proposals during the upcoming Common Council meeting on Oct. 1. 

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